Although nothing is confirmed as of yet, Variety is reporting that Chicago director, Rob Marshall, is on the verge of being signed by Disney to direct Pirates of the Caribbean 4. This would seriously further talk of the project moving into production next year, possibly even filming by April.

Variety says that Disney and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer have been meeting with various different directors over the past few weeks. They’re evidently trying to speed things up to get Pirates 4 made with Johnny Depp back as Captain Jack Sparrow before he’s to star in The Lone Ranger for the studio.

Sources are saying that it’s looking very likely that Marshall will come on-board as the director of the fourth installment in the successful Pirates franchise. These sources are also saying that the studio has started casting new characters that will appear in the fourth film.

The first three Pirates movies had Gore Verbinski at the helm, but it was announced back in April that he would no longer be directing any more of the franchise’s movies. He instead is off to work on his Bioshock video game adaptation.

If Marshall does get the Pirates 4 directing gig, it certainly will be a change of genre for him. He made his theatrically released directing debut back in 2004 with the musical film, Chicago (he directed the TV movie Annie before that), and has just finished filming his latest one, Nine, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman. That movie is due out in late November.

On top of Marshall’s usual type of films being so vastly different to Pirates, stepping into a multi-billion dollar franchise at this late stage in the game is no small matter either.

Marshall and the Pirates franchise may not exactly be a perfect fit at first glance, but nonetheless, it’s kind of relieving to see that the studio is thinking outside of the box, hopefully to try and breath some fresh life into the now limp and muddled series of films.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for news on whether or not Marshall signs on.

For the time being, what do you think about Rob “Chicago” Marshall directing Pirates 4?

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 will possibly begin shooting in April and May of 2010, and has a likely release date of sometime in 2011.

Sources: Variety via Cinematical